Four homeless men were randomly bludgeoned to death with a metal pipe as they were sleeping in Manhattan’s Chinatown on Saturday, local newspapers said citing police.
A fifth homeless man, who survived the attack, is in a critical condition in a local hospital.
The attacker, Randy Rodriguez Santos, 24, himself a homeless man, was arrested with the murder weapon and he is in police custody.
Addressing a media conference, Manhattan South Detective Michael Baldassano said Santos picked his victims at random and struck them on the head several times with a rectangular metal pipe.
The attacks started around 1.40 am and police got 911call about an assault on Bowery Street around 1.50 am.
Two witnesses told them the attacker wearing a black jacket and black pants, struck a victim numerous times in the head and fled.
Police found two men with head injuries. One of them died at the scene and the other, a 49-year-old man, was taken to NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital in critical condition.
Police searched the area and found the bodies of three more victims. Two were lying on the ground in front of a store on East Broadway, and the third was discovered across the street.
The police then spotted the alleged killer, who matched the description given by the witnesses, with a blood-covered metal pipe he seems to have stolen from a construction site.
Santos surrendered without a fight.
He had been arrested at least on six occasions in the past two years.
Tuesday’s street murders have shocked homeless people. Each of them felt he could be the next victim. One of them said he shared a drink with a victim just hours before the murderous attacks.
The Coalition for the Homeless said in a statement that the latest attacks send a message that poor people deserve the dignity and safety that a home assures.
New York City’s homeless population is growing because of lack of affordable housing.